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Primaries Cast Light on Midterms to Come

A primary election in New Mexico.

Courtesy of AP images

A primary election in New Mexico.

by Robert Szot, Staff Writer

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On Tuesday, millions of Texans went to the polls in a statewide primary election to determine who would run as the nominee for the Republican and Democratic parties in many races, including the races for the U.S. Senate seat and for Governor.

However, while the biggest outcome of the election may appear to be the elected nominees, in fact, the turnout data and voting trends from the primary will help to analyze and predict the potential outcome of the midterm elections, which will be held in November of this year.

One of the most important sources of data to analyze from the primaries is the turnout data, or how many people voted in each party’s primary statewide. Before Election Day, pundits speculated that from released figures of turnout from early voting, Democrats would potentially eclipse Republicans in total raw vote. While this did not turn out to be true, with Republicans outvoting Democrats by a 2 to 1 margin, Democratic turnout still increased sharply, with an 84 percent increase, while Republican turnout only increased by a smaller 14 percent increase.

Another interesting outcome of Tuesday’s elections is which intra-party factions inside both parties won out over the other factions that ran candidates against each other. One prominent example of this was between the party-line faction and the Tea Party faction within the Republican Party. The Tea Party faction ran many primary candidates against Republican incumbents, for example, against Representative Charlie Geren of Fort Worth. However, like in the aforementioned race, a good portion of these challengers lost against the incumbents, for example, only two out of 16 of the House challengers representing the Tea Party faction won. This may help to see whether these factions break from the parties they resided in and vote for the opposite or a different party in the midterms, which could cost the parties critical support in marginal races.

One final interesting indicator of the potential outcome of the midterms is exactly how much of the primary vote the winning candidate received in their respective election. This can serve as not only a credible sign of party infighting, but potentially that voters are dissatisfied with the main candidate that is expected to win the primary, and could cause troubles for the candidate in the general. For example, in the U.S. Senate primaries, while Republican candidate Ted Cruz won his primary by a healthy 85 percent of the vote, with token opposition, Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke only won his primary with 62 percent of the vote with credible opposition in the form of Sema Hernandez, who won 24 percent of the vote, and Edward Kimbrough, with 14 percent of the vote. With the added factor that both of O’Rourke’s challengers were not well-funded and were relatively unknown, O’Rourke has reasons for concern entering his general election campaign.

However, while an argument against speculating from the primary results is that these primaries have lower turnout than the general election and thus will be less accurate in determining the potential result of a future election, not only do primaries still serve as a credible snapshot of the electorate with just under three million votes cast, but these primaries had higher turnout than the primaries of 2014, which lends a greater degree of accuracy to these primaries as opposed to previous primaries.

While the November midterms may still be months away, and these primaries have less captivating contests than the general election, these primaries are still very interesting to watch and could give clues as to the result in the general election, given the turnout figures, the results of wars between party factions, and credible challenges to candidates in their primaries. With much data to analyze, and the complex nature of many of the primary contests, this primary will serve as a credible guide to predicting the outcome of the 2018 midterm elections.

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Primaries Cast Light on Midterms to Come